- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

DISTRICT

D.C. school official takes R.I. post

Rhode Island has appointed Deborah A. Gist, state superintendent of education for the District, to be its new statewide education commissioner, the state Department of Education said Wednesday.

Mrs. Gist will replace Peter McWalters, who is stepping down after being commissioner of elementary and secondary education for the past 17 years.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called Mrs. Gist “a force for real and meaningful reform” in a statement Wednesday.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, appointed Kerri L. Briggs to replace Mrs. Gist.

Ms. Briggs most recently served as a special assistant in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

House votes to ban texting while driving

Maryland appears likely to join Virginia and the District in banning texting while driving.

The House of Delegates voted 133-2 Wednesday to approve a bill that bans writing or sending texts while driving. Offenders would face a maximum $500 fine for the misdemeanor.

The Senate recently approved similar legislation, but their version also prohibits reading text messages. Lawmakers will work out the differences, and aides to Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, say he will sign the legislation into law.

There currently are no restrictions on adults in Maryland for using hand-held telephones or electronic devices while driving. Minors with provisional licenses or permits aren’t allowed to use wireless communication devices while driving, except to call 911.

ANNAPOLIS

Senate passes energy-regulation bill

The Maryland Senate passed legislation Wednesday night that supporters say will give state regulators more authority to consider the public interest in developing additional power supply instead of relying on market forces to boost generating capacity.

The measure, which was approved on a 27-19 vote, is designed to return authority that was lost by the state’s Public Service Commission after Maryland lawmakers deregulated electricity markets in 1999. Maryland residents have been hammered by high energy bills, prompting a flood of e-mails and phone calls to lawmakers.

ANNAPOLIS

Senate halts speed-camera bill

The state Senate has hit the brakes on a bill that would have allowed counties to put speed-monitoring cameras near schools and in highway work zones statewide.

The bill failed Wednesday by one vote.

Violations would have brought $40 fines in the mail.

Opponents said the measure would have been a far-reaching invasion of privacy and an unwieldy revenue raiser. Supporters said it would have improved safety for vulnerable schoolchildren and highway workers.

VIRGINIA

WOODBRIDGE

Police seek three in armored car heist

Three men robbed an armored car in broad daylight on Old Bridge Road in Woodbridge on Wednesday afternoon, WTOP Radio reported.

The men, dressed in all black and wearing Halloween masks, approached an armored car that was delivering cash to an ATM at the Bank of America and threatened the two guards, Prince William County police said.

The suspects got away on foot with an undetermined amount of cash.

No shots were fired, and no one was hurt, police said.

Police are now seeking witnesses.

RICHMOND

College scholarship linked to FBI quiz

A high school student will win a $500 college scholarship based on a quiz about the FBI.

The scholarship is available to students in four Virginia counties that had at least one elementary or middle school participating in the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing Internet Challenge during the school year.

The FBI’s Richmond division asked county superintendents in December to fold the program into existing lessons. Schools in Galax, Giles, Gray-son and Washington took part.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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